FORSYTHE ATLANTIC'S RICHARD PHILIPPE CLAIMS SECOND IN CLEVELAND Championship Leader Andreas Wirth Loses Nose But Sets Fastest Lap and Retains Points Lead CLEVELAND, Ohio -- June 25, 2006 -- He may be just 16 years old, but Forsythe...
FORSYTHE ATLANTIC'S RICHARD PHILIPPE CLAIMS SECOND IN CLEVELAND
Championship Leader Andreas Wirth Loses Nose But Sets Fastest Lap and Retains Points Lead
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- June 25, 2006 -- He may be just 16 years old, but Forsythe Championship Racing's young Atlantic prodigy Richard Philippe showed great maturity today as he resisted race-long pressure from more experienced competitors and finished second in the final race of the Gehl Atlantic Championship of Cleveland doubleheader. After showing speed all year but suffering from a crash at the season opener in Long Beach and bad luck at several other events, the younger brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe jumps to 15th in the point standings.
The "old man" of Forsythe's Atlantic foursome, 25 year-old Leonardo Maia, enjoyed his best finish of the year as he climbed from his seventh-place starting spot to finish fifth on the day and move to eighth in the standings. Andreas Wirth, the series points leader, had just passed championship contender Simon Pagenaud when he went off track and lost his front wing, costing the German rocket a lap as he was forced to pit for a new nose. Despite the setback, Wirth climbed back through the 24-car field to finish 18th while setting fastest race lap, over a quarter-second quicker than any other car.
James Hinchcliffe, right behind Wirth in the point standings coming into the Cleveland weekend, was also behind Wirth when he went off track. He went off track with his teammate, also losing his front wing. After pitting for a new nose he trailed Wirth across the finish line in 19th.
"Finally! It's been a really, really tough year so far and I was getting pretty depressed. But my team never gave me a hard time and kept supporting me, so I'm very happy to give them a podium finish. The car was really easy to drive and while I didn't have anything for Graham (race winner Graham Rahal) I was able to do consistent quick laps. Our driver coach Lee Bentham was talking to me all through the race keeping me calm and focused so I have to thank him also. My family was here supporting me and we all had big smiles! So now there's just one more step to focus on for Toronto."
"We're getting there. The car was pretty good and consistent and I got a decent start. I was in seventh at the end of the first lap and just kept chipping away. Thanks again to the team for a great weekend and I think we were all happy to see Richard get the podium he deserved. I think we're still rebuilding our confidence after we had a bad weekend as a team in Monterrey, but it's starting to look like we're going to be a factor for the rest of the year. Now everybody has a podium but me, so it's my turn in Toronto!"
"I lost the air off my front wings behind the 22 car as I tried to set him up for a pass on the front straight and pushed off at the last chicane. So I had to pit for a new wing and that was it. I'm very disappointed because I knew straight away the #37 INDECK/Layer 7/Wirth Solar car was very, very fast today. At least I did the quickest race lap and showed how hard my crew had worked to make the car perfect today, but it's not the result we were looking for."
"I was right behind Andreas when he went off and just followed him into the dirt. He lost the air off his front wings behind Ott and I lost the air off my front wings behind him. We were both kind of amazed after the race because we'd never experienced such a sudden loss of downforce like that. But, it is what it is and we'll just have to move on. Next we go to my hometown of Toronto and I think our motivation will be very high there. The team is doing a great job and I don't have any doubt the Emexis/INDECK car will be up front again."